Western Stocks Of Soviet Era Military Equipment For Ukraine Depleting
EUROPE - The United States and Western allies have been giving Ukraine Soviet-era military equipment due to the fact that Ukraine's military was once part of the Soviet Union and Soviet-era weapons are not interchangeable with those of the West. Western stocks of Soviet-era weapons however are running out.
With inflation in the United States hitting 8.6 percent in May, however, many Americans are worried that printing the money necessary to aid Ukraine in the war is contributing to the already rising inflation. The U.S. has already contributed about $8.6 billion in Ukrainian military equipment and aid thus far and promises more to come.
Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, "Most of the equipment in the Ukrainian military at the beginning of the war was Soviet-era".
"In addition to the tanks, Ukraine’s aircraft and artillery originate from that period, artillery, in particular, has proved decisive in fighting the Russians since the war began," he added.
In order to overcome the shortage, the United States is attempting to both obtain more Soviet-era equipment and at the same time switch Ukraine over to NATO-compatible military equipment.
A senior US defense official said in a briefing on June 24th, "The Soviet-type equipment stocks are dwindling. That doesn't mean we've reached rock bottom. There are still sources of ammunition. There are sources of equipment".
Cancian said, "There are still countries all around the world who we're talking to who want to be able to make their own transition to NATO-type equipment and are very much willing to provide their[older, Soviet-era] equipment".
Ukraine's reliance on Soviet-era equipment has made it difficult for Ukrainian allies to provide equipment, due to the incompatibility of Soviet-era ammunition with modern systems.
Artillery systems from the United States, for instance, use 155mm rounds but Ukrainian Soviet-era artillery systems don't use 155mm ammunition and so they are incompatible.
This incompatibility has prompted the United States to send Ukraine not only ammunition but entire compatible weapon systems along with the ammunition.
Other European countries however have been more than happy to give up their Soviet-era equipment in exchange for newer equipment from the United States and NATO. "It's a 'win-win-win' situation" Cancian stated.
He also said, "What we are looking at is not just how we source the Soviet-type equipment and not just how we source NATO equipment to transition it to Ukraine, we're also looking at how we're ramping up production lines of US and NATO equipment so that we can backfill other countries and ourselves so it's a multi-pronged effort".
"Transitioning from that equipment to NATO standard is something that will take years, even decades. So this is not something that’s going to happen overnight, but I think both sides want to start the process." Cancian said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also stated, "We support the idea of bringing a lot of advanced equipment, including also Western modern equipment and many different types of equipment. NATO now has tasked to help Ukraine transition from old Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO-standard equipment".
"Ukraine needs a wide range of modern, heavy NATO-standard equipment," he added.
Even now, however, the United States and western allies have not provided Ukraine with as much heavy weaponry as Ukraine says that it requires.
Fabrice Pothier, a former head of policy planning at NATO said, "There is a political calculation that we should give a bit more but not so much that somehow we can feed and trigger an escalation that gets out of control. And in a way, I understand the logic. But I think it's profoundly wrong because fundamentally, that means we are asking Zelensky to fight with one hand [behind] the back".